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Mother’s Day Match Preview: NC Courage at KC Current

After an exhausting three straight matches on the road, the KC Current get to return home to face the always dangerous but currently struggling NC Courage.

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Credit: Thad Bell

It’s safe to assume that the Current will be excited to return home. Not only has their three-match road trip often been frustrating, but they seem to have forgotten how to score goals. Over their past two matches, they’ve outshot their opponents by a combined 48 to 14 and yet have had to settle for 1-1 and 0-0 draws. However, a return to the friendly confines of CPKC Stadium should help them snap out of this scoring drought. In three home matches thus far this season, the Current are 3-0-0 and have scored 14 goals for an average of 4.67 goals scored per match. In five away games, the Current are 2-3-0 (two wins, three draws) and have scored seven goals for an average of 1.4 goals per match.

In other words, on average the team scores more than three more¬†goals per home match than away. Not only that, but they’ve just settled for ties against the teams sitting in 13th and 11th place respectively. This is a team eager to get back to Kansas City, to scoring goals and to winning matches.

Now it’s probably not fair to be too down on the Current’s recent results. They are still undefeated after all and inched back into first place (on goal differential) Wednesday night. They’ve also had the misfortune of facing two straight opposing goalkeepers at the top of their game; both Campbell in Houston and Ivory in Seattle singlehandedly kept their sides in it on many occasions. It is also likely a sign of respect that Seattle, the league’s runner-up last season, was so clearly playing for a draw. They spent most of the game employing time-wasting tactics, a weird sight for a home team in a scoreless match. That comes on the heels of Houston’s coach celebrating like they’d just won the championship when his team eked out a 1-1 draw with KC. Just eight matches into the season, the Current have earned a reputation as an incredibly dangerous team such that opposing sides are giddy at the idea of simply sharing the points with KC.

With that said, if you remove two goals from stoppage time in Los Angeles, this team has scored just twice over the past three matches. Wednesday’s game in Seattle was not only the first time KC had been shut out this year, it was the first game in which they’d not held a lead. Vlatko did tinker with the lineup by starting Michelle Cooper (in place of Alexa Spaanstra) for the first time this season and starting Regan Steigleder and Stine Ballisager on the back line. The argument could be made that these changes worked as Cooper was one of the more dangerous attackers for the team, forcing Ivory into multiple impressive saves. Additionally, this was the first shutout KC’s defense has recorded this year, however outside of two late corners, Seattle put up very little scoring threat.

That all brings us to this Sunday’s match–a “get right” game during which AD Franch and all the mothers around KC will hopefully get to celebrate. While the Current have stumbled a bit recently with three draws in the last five matches, the North Carolina Courage limp into town with even more struggles having lost three of four. Despite this, they are a dangerous team that was, as recently as a week and a half ago, ranked number 1 in the CBS power rankings. They feature star players such as Karoline, Ashley Sanchez, and Casey Murphy as well as former KCC athletes Victoria Pickett and Jenna Winebrenner. They have absolutely demolished the Dash and shut out the trio of Gotham, Thorns, and Reign. Scoring goals against this team won’t be automatic, however, shutting down the Current’s attack in Kansas City is something no one has managed to do, and it would likely take something heroic from Murphy and the NC back four to manage it Sunday.

In our preview of the match against Seattle, we posed a number of questions about KC’s lineup, and if anything Vlatko’s choices and the result left us with even more. Not only did we see first-time starters Cooper and Steigleder, but we witnessed Hutton exit a match for the first time this season, Wheeler not appear in a match for the first time this season, Feist play a full 90, Lavogez not look particularly dangerous in the #9 role, etc.

There will probably be some tired legs after all the minutes and travel (and weather delays) of the past week so some additional rotation may be expected. As successful as this team has been to this point, it remains surprising that there really isn’t a definitive starting lineup. Hamilton was the first player off the bench in the season opener (and scored a goal!) and yet hasn’t seen the field or even been on the matchday roster for a month and a half. The team has eleven different goal scorers on the season, but one of them is not (yet) Debinha who hasn’t looked especially dangerous in her few appearances thus far. The team employs two Olympic gold medal-winning Canadians (Scott and Prince) and yet one has only played a few minutes this season and the other has played zero. Will Hanna Glas ever be healthy and make an appearance for the team? Will Bia’s foot allow her to reenter the lineup and dominate alongside Chawinga again? We likely won’t get all the answers Sunday, but we almost certainly will get more goals than recent games and (hopefully) a win!

WHEN: Sunday, May 12 at 5:00 PM (Central Time)

WHERE: CPKC Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

HOW TO WATCH: 38 The Spot/NWSL+

Record:

Current: 5-3-0 (18 points, 1st place)

North Carolina Courage: 4-0-4 (12 points, 6th place)

Last Match:

KC Current: 0-0 draw away to Seattle Reign FC

North Carolina Courage: 0-1 defeat away to Gotham FC

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